To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date South Yorkshire Police and the Serious Fraud Office commenced their joint investigation into the British Coal litigation; what progress has been made; what is the cost of the investigation to date, apportioned between South Yorkshire Police and the Serious Fraud Office; and when the investigation is expected to conclude.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), together with South Yorkshire Police, is investigating allegations of serious and complex fraud in relation to the handling of claims brought under the DTI administered Coal Health Compensation Scheme.
The investigation began in July 2005 and is continuing. It would not be appropriate to give details of an ongoing investigation. The Attorney-General receives regular updates on the progress of SFO cases from Richard Alderman, and she is keen for all investigations to be concluded at the earliest possible point. This must however be balanced with the need to investigate all reasonable lines of inquiry to ensure that all relevant information has been considered fully.
The SFO investigation has cost just over £440,000 to date, from July 2005 when it began, to the present. The SFO is not able to provide a figure for the costs incurred by South Yorkshire Police in this investigation as police resources are allocated and maintained by the individual force.
There are a number of outstanding lines of enquiry to be pursued, but the SFO is working hard to conclude the investigation by the end of the year.